Regents expected to OK dean

by Joel Sawyer

Department of Pediatrics Chairman Alfred F. Michael will become the interim dean of the Medical School next week pending approval Friday by the Board of Regents.
Michael would take over for Dr. Frank Cerra, who became the Academic Health Center provost in April. Regents are expected to approve the appointment.
Dr. Robert Blum, director of the Adolescent Health Program in the pediatrics department, said Michael would be an outstanding interim dean.
“He will do superbly well,” Blum said. “He has an extraordinary intuition and sense, and the skill to work with others.”
Blum, who has worked closely with Michael in the pediatrics department since 1987, praised his management style.
“He’s a consensus builder who listens very carefully to the input of others and is willing to make tough decisions,” Blum said.
Michael, a University Regents’ professor who has worked at the University for more than 30 years and headed the pediatrics department for the past 10 years, said he feels qualified to head the Medical School.
“I understand the institution and Medical School, and have made a commitment to the Medical School, University and state,” he said.
Michael said his major challenge as interim dean would be to “help Cerra to steer the Medical School into next year, to help keep it productive and to help it complete its mission.”
The Academic Health Center, which includes seven health care schools including the Medical School and University Hospital and Clinics, is in the midst of a structural reorganization that began a year ago under former health center provost William Brody.
At the moment, Michael said, he would only consider staying on as dean until a permanent successor can be found next year.
A search committee of community members, student representatives and health center faculty and staff has begun a national search for a permanent dean, said Sandra Edwardson, dean of the School of Nursing. The application deadline for the position is Aug. 15.
Michael would maintain his position as the head of pediatrics, a department that he has helped to achieve national prominence. In 1994 the department won a national award for innovative pediatric teaching.
As the interim dean, Michael would oversee a school with annual expenditures of nearly $300 million and a faculty and staff of more than 900 employees. The school has 23 departments and five research centers and instructs more than 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students.